FOOTBALL, they say, is a young man’s game.
But one Sutton referee is bucking that trend.
Keith Aldred has been refeering in the Chad Mansfield Youth League for 44 years and still turns up each Saturday to take control despite being 79.
Football-mad Keith first started playing football in 1943 and had trials with Southend, Nottingham Forest and Derby.
After a successful amateur career, which included winning the Notts Amateur Alliance with Blackwell in the 1954/55, Keith found his true calling as a referee for his local youth football league.
Said Keith: “It is just something that is part of my life.
“I tried to make it as a professional footballer, but it did not happen.
“I just love being out on the pitch and really enjoy refereering. I don’t smoke or drink and that has helped to keep me fit down the years.
“I referee once a week and get a lot of banter from the players who call me a grandad and say it’s about time I retired, but I can’t imagine not being involved in football.”
Down the years dedicated Keith, who broke his leg in an FA Cup qualifying tie whilst playing for South Normanton in 1957, has enjoyed many memorable games.
And one cup tie in the Mansfield Sunday League in 1984 stands out in particular for the great-granddad.
“I will never forget that one game because there were 30 penalties in it,” he said. “There was two penalties in normal time and then a mammoth shoot-out. It is just one of those occassions you don’t forget.
“I just want to referee as long as possible now because it is what I love doing.
“I always try to persuade other people to referee becaus it is important we get the next generation coming through,”
Keith first began watching Chesterfield as a boy and played for New Hucknall Colliery in the Mansfield Youth League.